“Crab & Sriracha Mac ‘n’ Cheese” from “Comfort”

It’s always a dangerous thing in this family to try to find a better mac ‘n’ cheese than the one we already know and fiercely love. I’ve written about this before, and you would think I would have learned my lesson by now, but I guess I like to live life on the edge.

Thus, this new mac ‘n’ cheese with crab and sriracha.

I’m not going to bury the lede. We didn’t like this more than our Desert Island Mac ‘n’ Cheese from the New York Times. But it was a nice change from the usual.

Though I need to add a few caveats. First, Andrew (18) didn’t like the first few bites but ended up eating the lot. “I didn’t like it at first, but I guess I do now,” he said, which is hardly a ringing endorsement, but at least he had something to eat.

Another caveat: rather than taking out a second mortgage to buy all the fresh crab necessary for this (300 g, which would run us about £15 if it was all fresh), I used a mixture of fresh and canned. Given that the dish is smothered in sauce and cheese, I didn’t think we would notice the difference. We didn’t.

Would I make this again? Probably not. Don’t get me wrong, it was good. It just wasn’t better than our usual, so we’ll stick with that.

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“Crab & Sriracha Mac ‘n’ Cheese” from “Comfort”

“Crab Mac and Cheese” from Nigel Slater’s “Eat”

IMG_4526Maureen: Sigh. I am not so sure about this.

Andrew (14): It seems OK, I guess.

Maureen: You’re a teenager. I’m beginning to think you’ll eat nearly anything. I was all excited to make this. It’s the combination of two things we love– crab and mac ‘n cheese! I thought it would be great. I think I was wrong.

Nicholas (10): It’s as if the two tastes are battling it out and neither is the winner.

Andrew: Is that just another way of saying you don’t like it?

Nicholas: Yes.

Maureen: I agree with Nicholas. The crab is always good and mac and cheese is always good, but together, they don’t seem to get along.

Andrew: I’m not so sure about the mustard.

Maureen: Me neither.

Nicholas: The mustard is gross. Maybe that’s why the flavours are fighting.

Maureen: Well, this is disappointing. I think the rest of this is going in the bin. What a shame.

Nicholas: Please don’t make this again.

Maureen: I’m not planning on it.

“Crab Mac and Cheese” from Nigel Slater’s “Eat”

“Crab Cakes with Fresh Citrus-Tomato Mayonnaise” from “Home Made Summer”

Hooray for Fish Friday!

First, a word about Fish Friday. We started this initiative almost a year ago because we always said we wanted to eat more fish, but we never did. We are lucky enough to have a fantastic fishmonger in our neighbourhood called– wait for it– The Fishmonger. Those happy readers living in London, especially southeast London, should buy all their fish from there because they’re great.

Fish Friday is now firmly in our dinner rotation. There is, of course, the odd week when we can’t do it for one reason or another, but for the most part, we do it. The other good thing about doing it every week is it forces you to expand your fish horizons, because really, who wants to eat salmon every week? Lucky for me, they couldn’t be more helpful at the fishmongers when it comes to selecting fish. Usually, I have to get something specific, but if they don’t have it, they recommend a good alternative. As a bonus, they also filet the fish for me because goodness knows I couldn’t do it.

So for this week’s Fish Friday, I decided to make crab cakes, a firm favourite whenever I’m near the coast in the U.S. Funnily enough, the inspiration for this recipe is American, so it must have been something in my Yankee DNA that inspired my choice. The fishmonger had fresh canned crab, which seems an oxymoron, but really does exist. (It’s fresh in that it’s imperative to keep the can in the refrigerator, even unopened.)

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Given that the crab meat had already been taken care of for me, this recipe was a breeze to make and highly recommended. Everyone loved them.

The mayonnaise didn’t work out nearly so well, but I’m pretty sure that was down to operator error. I should have stopped added the oil when I saw that the ingredients had emulsified in the food processor. Instead, I was so impressed with myself that I could make mayonnaise, I kept thinking, “Wow. I did this!” rather than taking a moment to realise it was done and stopping. It might also have been the heat, but I’m pretty sure it was me.

So two recommendations for me today: this recipe (found after the jump) and also to start a Fish Friday (or Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday or Sunday) in your house. Once you start, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.

Continue reading ““Crab Cakes with Fresh Citrus-Tomato Mayonnaise” from “Home Made Summer””

“Crab Cakes with Fresh Citrus-Tomato Mayonnaise” from “Home Made Summer”

“Chilli Crab Risotto” from “Nigellissima”

Anna: This looks very appetising. I love the picture the picture in the book, and ours has turned out exactly the same!

Peter: It’s a nice, light risotto. It tastes kind of summery, but maybe that’s the crab.

Anna: It is light. No butter, no cheese, just a little bit of olive oil at the beginning of the process. But it’s lovely and creamy anyway.

Peter: Is this authentically Italian, or has she made it up?

Anna: Funny you ask that. She has done this recipe as linguine previously in Forever Summer. And so confesses in the introduction that she’s basically turned it into a risotto for this book. I love crab spaghetti and crab linguine as you know. We’ve had Nigella’s, we’ve had Bill’s, Lucas Hollweg’s, the River Cafe’s and Angela Hartnett’s. So I had to make this.

Peter: Where does this rank?

Anna: Well this is a risotto, not pasta, so I can’t compare it directly. But what I will say is that while this is delicious, I do prefer it as a pasta-based dish. It’s quicker to make. And less heavy to eat.

“Chilli Crab Risotto” from “Nigellissima”

“Spaghetti with crab and mint” from “Good Things to Eat”

Anna: Have you worked out what the mystery ingredient is?

Peter: It’s the breadcrumbs.

Anna: Correct. I had to fry them with chilli and garlic and sprinkle them on the top.  What do you think?

Peter: Well they do add a certain crunch to proceedings.

Anna: Hmm. Mine have gone a bit soggy now I’ve stirred them around.  I’m not convinced, and they add an extra step which isn’t required in any of my other crab spaghetti recipes.

Peter: The watercress was an interesting addition as well.

Anna: I’ve seen this in other recipes. Nigella’s has it for example.  We loved that recipe.

Peter: The watercress was nearly your undoing this time….

Anna: I forgot to buy it, yes. I’m a numpty. But Sainsburys in Holborn Circus saved the day. We can’t have a day go by without me forgetting something.

Peter: I’ve enjoyed this, but I’m not sure it’s screaming winner to me.

Anna: You’re right. I can’t not like crab pasta, whatever the recipe. But the extra steps involved with this one, making breadcrumbs and cooking breadcrumbs, is enough for me to turn to Nigella/River Cafe/Bill instead.  Sorry Lucas.

“Spaghetti with crab and mint” from “Good Things to Eat”

“Linguine with Chilli, Crab and Watercress” from “Forever Summer”

Anna: Linguine with crab has to be one of my desert-island dishes, so tonight we’re having another linguine-with-crab-off.  We did the River Cafe version  in June, and established that we preferred Bill Granger’s recipe from Simply Bill.  Nigella admits that her recipe is essentially the River Cafe’s as it’s a classic.  But her version has more precise quantities of ingredients and a mystery ingredient thrown in. Did you guess the mystery ingredient?

Peter: Watercress.

Anna: Well done.

Peter: It’s named in the recipe, so it’s hardly a mystery is it? 

Anna: More of a guest ingredient then.

Peter: It was heavier than the usual linguine with crab, Bill’s one.

Anna: What do you mean?

Peter: More filling.

Anna: That might be because Bill’s recipe calls for spaghetti or spaghettini, whereas this is linguine.  And there was more olive oil.  And, being Nigella, she suggests a greater quantity of pasta anyway.  Which I love her for, despite it being portion-control month.

Peter: I liked the peppery bite of the watercress.  It doesn’t get in your teeth as much as parsley.

Anna: There was supposed to be parsley in it too, but I forgot to get any.

Peter: It felt like more of a main course than Bill’s.

Anna: So there you have it, use thicker pasta, serve a greater quantity and everyone’s happy!

“Linguine with Chilli, Crab and Watercress” from “Forever Summer”

“Linguini with Crab” from “The River Cafe Cook Book”

Friday night and we need something quick but celebratory (it’s the end of the week after all), so linguini with crab it is.  I’d been looking forward to doing this recipe, as our usual pasta/crab favourite is from Bill’s Sydney Food, and has a bit more of an Asian feel to it (lime juice, spring onions as well as chillis etc).  So time to revisit an old Italian favourite…..

The curse of the River Cafe mad proportions returned – not having 2 large live male crabs to hand on a Friday night, nor having the inclination to find them and engage in all that faff, I guessed at a sufficient crab meat weight for two, and bought 100g of white meat and 100g of brown.  (This is what we use for Bill’s recipe).  Consequently the quantities of the rest of the ingredients had to be improvised – how many chillis… lemons…. how much garlic… flat leaf parsley?  How much did we feel like on a warm Friday evening?

The end result was perfectly nice, but just didn’t have the level of punch that we’re used to.  To be fair, this may have been down to improvising the quatities a bit, but this isn’t going to replace our usual recipe I’m afraid.  Good for the non-chilli fiends, but not a new favourite for us.

“Linguini with Crab” from “The River Cafe Cook Book”